If there is one thing that Flordeliza Santos wanted Filipinos abroad to know, it is that no matter how many hurdles they face in life, everything is possible. An elementary teacher in the Philippines, Santos encountered countless problems–her ex-husband left for another family, she was drowning in debt, and she has two children to raise. During those trying times, her firstborn was only five and her daughter was only two.
Santos recalled that she was literally penniless and whenever her salary came out, it will just go directly to her lenders and be left with a small amount that would not even suffice for a week. Oftentimes, she’d borrow up to P50 so she could buy powdered milk for her daughter.
With a piling debt, it was 2006 when she decided to loan another amount of money to work in UAE. Her children were under the care of her siblings. When asked about her reason for opting to work abroad, she said it was mainly because of a broken marriage and huge responsibility on her shoulder.
“I was alone in raising and supporting my children and what I am getting as an elementary teacher was not enough even to ensure my children were all well fed. There are piles of loans that and my ex-husband took before, which is over P1 million, which is under my name. There was no option but to leave,” she added.
“I found a job as a receptionist with a very low salary, almost just enough for my own expenses and a very little extra to send to the Philippines to settle loans and other expenses for my children. I have to do part-time jobs which are somehow allowed during those times, cleaning villas on my day-off and waiting table during Ramadan seasons after work,” she said.
At that point, Santos thought about how she would be able to conquer her problems and that she cannot forever be paying off her debt and just accept low-income jobs.
The first company where she worked was dealing with fire rating doors and during those times, they had trouble finding someone who could assist in the quality management system. Santos started reading and educating herself about it and a few months after, she volunteered to her superior to do the task in exchange for a small increment.
“He gave me the chance and thankfully, I was able to renew our certifications without facing many problems,” she said.
From that point, she started having an interest in the quality field and immersed herself in low-cost short courses. Santos then moved on as an assistant admin for a certification company where she learned more about standards, certifications, and conformity.
Currently, Santos is now a certified internal auditor for Integrated Management System for three standards, namely ISO 9001, ISO 45001, and ISO 14001. She is also a certified lead auditor for a management system for health and safety.
Presently managing the Quality Department for an aluminum company based in Dubai Investment Park 1 as a quality and technical manager, her responsibilities include ensuring that their products under production and installation services at the site are as per the standards and specifications of the projects and their clients.
“I would like to inspire our fellow Filipinos that if they want to change the status of their lives, they have to persevere and they have to give extra efforts to be able to achieve what they want. Efforts and initiative are the backbones of all success. For most of us, we must decide what we want, learn how to get there, and do everything until we finally reach what we are aiming for,” she added.
Helping fellow countrymen
Between 2007 and 2009, Santos was part of the Filipino organization called Training and Opportunities for Pinoys Abroad (TROPA) which provides free and affordable short-term courses that help Filipinos develop their personal and professional careers.
Santos, a Muslim, has been organizing charitable activities every Ramadan since 2017.
This story has been featured on the 11th issue of The Global Filipino Magazine. To get a copy, you may contact Mr Orli Gayeta at +971503196856. If you have an inspiring story or know someone with one, please send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.